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That all supports the group's essential point: Life as a broke nobody from nowhere ain't half bad with the proper self-esteem and sense of humor, because there are way more Nappy Roots folk than Dupris in the world. These guys are "nappy" in their ways, and "Jimmy crack corn, no fade, no perm, I'm just ballin' on a budget, yea-ga!!" is one bizarre slice of lexicon"Ballin' on a Budget" 's title becomes plain ol' "B.O.B." elsewhere (not the only time they evoke OutKast).
Who ever heard of Kentucky hip-hop, anyway? Skinny Deville, Big V., B. Stille, Ron Clutch, R. Prophet, and Scales take their anonymity and run with it, baking a musical mutation that grabs mostly from Goodie Mob's scorching-earth-singsong Dirty South and Too $hort's cheap-drums-and-laid-back-charm West Coast. They sing hooks in thick drawls, and speed-rap like No Limit or the Dungeon Family. They employ the instrumentation of Dixie: mandolins, acoustic blues licks, andin "Ho Down"a prototypical Al Green-Willie Mitchell guitar jam. (Curiously, Bowling Green is closer to Cincinnati than to Memphis or Atlanta, but whatever.) Other songs, like the sparse "Start It Over," retread the electro of mid-'80s Whodini. R. Prophet's over-the-top, yapping reggae delivery hammers home the grooves.
The six also create a new personathe hillbilly hustla, the guy who scarfs down plates of sweet-potato pie just in time to drive a shipment of dope over the county line. Their anti-bling-bling isn't preaching; they're too wasted for that. Put "Set It Out" 's rollicking hook "Roll some, drink some, cut some, what?" next to Queens of the Stone Age's "Feel Good Hit of the Summer," and you'll notice the intoxication mind-meld. In their casual embrace of drugs and admission of petty crimesthey don't commit any now, but do remember snatching purses back in the dayNappy Roots are not all that removed from their urban counterparts. They're African American men in their mid-twenties, struggling to make it in life, making poor decisions along the way.
The difference, however, comes from how Nappy Roots reach for their ounce of Jay-Z supremacy. They're as real as real gets, if you follow their logic, because they're not trying to pimp anything but their true surroundings. Judging from their photos, they really do wear their gravy on their sleeve, which makes their approach refreshing. Whether that gravy drips into the mainstream remains to be seenat minimum, Nappy Roots turn New York's mackcentric posse imagery on its ear.